Live Updates

January 16 coronavirus news

New year, new routines for students in the UK
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What you need to know

  • The global coronavirus death toll surpassed 2 million on Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University.
  • The grim figure came as Pfizer announced shipments from its vaccine facility in Belgium would be temporarily reduced as it scales up to produce more doses.
  • The US death toll from the pandemic could surpass 400,000 before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on Wednesday, according to a CDC ensemble projection.
  • The UK has banned arrivals from multiple Latin American countries and Portugal following reports of a new coronavirus variant in Brazil.

Our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic has ended for the day.

19 Posts

It took 6 weeks for roughly 500,000 Covid-19 deaths to be recorded around the world

Cemetery workers in Manaus, Brazil, carry the coffin of a person said to have died of Covid-19, on January 15.

It took just six weeks for the world to report the most recent 500,000 deaths from Covid-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

According to the same data, it took the world more than six months to report the first 500,000 Covid-19 deaths.

As of Saturday morning, the United States has reported 392,351 Covid-19 deaths – the most of any country in the world.

Brazil has reported more than 200,000 deaths from Covid-19, and India and Mexico have both reported more than 100,000 Covid-19 deaths to date.

Death rates began to rise sharply in November 2020 in both Europe and North America. The average number of daily new deaths has remained at a pandemic-era high in both regions for over a month, according to university data.

Pakistan grants emergency use authorization for Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine

Pakistan’s Drug Regulatory Authority on Saturday granted emergency use authorization of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, the Ministry of National Health Services confirmed.

This is the first vaccine Pakistan has granted for use to combat the pandemic.

According to Johns Hopkins University, Pakistan has reported 516,770 cases of Covid-19 and its death toll has reached 10,908.

Argentina confirms first known case of Covid-19 variant found in UK

Argentina identified its first known case of the Covid-19 variant on Saturday that was first reported in the United Kingdom, Argentina’s minister of Science, Technology and Innovation said.

According to Minister Roberto Salvarezza, the patient is an Argentine citizen living in the UK with a traveling history to Austria and Germany. The patient arrived in Argentina from Frankfurt in late December without any symptoms and is now under quarantine.

On Dec. 20, Argentina suspended all direct flights to and from the UK to try to prevent the spread of the variant found in the UK. Nearly a month later, the UK also banned flights from multiple Latin American countries, including Argentina, after a new Covid-19 variant was found in Brazil.

Covid-19 vaccines accompanied by organ music at England's Salisbury Cathedral

Louis Godwin, a former Royal Air Force flight sergeant, receives an injection of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at Salisbury Cathedral in England on January 16.

England’s historic Salisbury Cathedral was transformed into a Covid-19 vaccination center on Saturday, with patients vaccinated while organ music was played.

Local general practitioners invited patients that are in the over 80s priority group to visit the cathedral to receive their first vaccine dose.

Former Royal Air Force flight sergeant and Lancaster tail gunner Louis Godwin, 95, was among the first people to receive a dose at the more than 800-year-old cathedral, according to its official Twitter account.

“It has been absolutely marvelous to come into this wonderful building and have this jab,” Godwin said in an interview with PA Media. “I’ve had many jabs in my time, especially in the RAF. After the war, I was sent to Egypt and I had a couple of jabs which knocked me over for a week.”

“This one, the doctor said to me ‘Well that’s done’ and I thought he hadn’t started. So it’s no trouble at all and no pain,” he added.

The cathedral’s organist John Challenger said in a tweet he “would be playing Handel’s Largo and much more great organ music” as the cathedral became a vaccination center. 

More than 100,000 vaccinated on India's first day of Covid-19 vaccination drive, health ministry says

A nurse draws from a vial of the Covishield vaccine — developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India — at a hospital in Mumbai, India, on January 16.

India started its nation-wide vaccination drive for Covid-19 on Saturday.

According to the country’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, a total of 165,714 health care workers were vaccinated as of 5:30 p.m. local time Saturday.

A total of 16,755 trained vaccinators were involved at 3,351 sessions nationwide, the ministry added.

Two vaccines: The Indian government issued emergency approval for two vaccines earlier this month, one from Oxford/AstraZeneca and the other from Covaxin, which was developed locally by Indian biotech company Bharat Biotech and a government-run institute.

India has reported the second-most coronavirus cases in the world after the United States, with more than 10.5 million confirmed cases and more than 152,000 related deaths.

47 Australian Open players in quarantine after testing positive for Covid-19

The Australian Open logo is pictured at Melbourne Park on January 28, 2020.

A total of 47 tennis players are required to quarantine for 14 days after others tested positive for Covid-19 on two separate charter flights into Melbourne for the Australian Open.

Twenty-four players on a charter flight from the United States to Melbourne are required to quarantine for two weeks after a member of the flight crew and a passenger — not a player — returned positive Covid-19 tests. Both had tested negative within 72 hours of boarding the flight, which carried a total of 79 people.

Another 23 players are required to quarantine following a charter flight carrying 64 people from Abu Dhabi to Melbourne. One person — not a player — tested positive after the flight, despite presenting documentation of a negative Covid-19 test prior to takeoff.

All 47 players affected will not be able to leave their hotel rooms for the 14-day period and until they are medically cleared. They will not be eligible to practice.

Britain's "major crisis" is good and bad news for travelers

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a media briefing in London on January 15.

When the UK Prime Minister addressed the nation on December 20, the news was bad enough: Christmas was canceled.

Boris Johnson plunged the country into harsh new restrictions, blaming a new variant of the disease that had been spreading in London and the southeast of England since September.

But suddenly, things got even worse. Country after country closed their borders to flights from the UK, in a bid to keep the new variant confined to “plague island,” as the New York Times dubbed it.

With ferry routes across the Channel blocked, lorries carrying goods to the continent backed up for miles along the motorways. Eventually, a local airport in Kent was turned into a parking lot for 4,000 lorries. Nothing could get into the UK, either. It was, said the wags, a taster of what a no-deal Brexit would be like.

That no-deal was averted – the government signed an agreement with the EU on December 24. But the crisis is far from over.

UK travelers are still banned from much of the world – including EU countries – because of the homegrown variant.

And although the UK was the first country in the world to start a vaccine rollout, its good news was marred by the report on January 13 that the death tally from Covid-19 had passed 100,000. Two days later, the government announced that it was axing their last remaining “travel corridors.”

Inbound travel is a lucrative business for the UK – pre-Covid, Visit Britain forecast that 2020 would see 32.3 million visitors pumping £24.7 billion ($33.6 billion) into the economy.

In the end, 2020 saw a 76% decline in visitors and an 80% drop. The tourist board is forecasting 16.9 million visits and £9 billion ($12.2 billion) spending for 2021: a mere 41% and 32% of the 2019 figures respectively. But that is, of course, if people come. After all, who’d want to vacation on “plague island”?

Read the full story:

It has suffered hugely in the pandemic, and is coping with the fallout from Brexit. So how do travelers see the UK?

Britain's 'major crisis' is good and bad news for travelers

Turkey vaccinates more than 650,000 people with China’s Sinovac

A medical worker receives a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine Sinovac at the Sabiha Uzun Maternal Child Health Center in Ankara, Turkey on January 15, 2021.

Turkey has inoculated more than 650,000 people since it started its mass rollout of China’s Sinovac Biotech vaccine on Thursday, according to the Turkish health ministry’s online vaccine counter.  

Each dose of the vaccine in Turkey is given by appointment with a barcode matched to the patient’s identifying information and scanned into a centralized database.

Vaccination campaign underway: Turkey began its vaccination effort across all 81 provinces on Thursday starting with frontline workers.

Turkey received 3 million doses of Sinovac in December and approved the vaccine for use on Wednesday evening. 

Phase 3 trial results for the Sinovac vaccine have still not been published.

The Turkish drug and medical device administration did not release details about the data used to determine the vaccine’s safety and efficacy. Advanced Phase 3 trials are ongoing in Turkey, but the vaccine is also being tested in other countries, including Brazil.

Medics call for transparency: Turkey’s main medical union called on the government for more transparency to ensure public trust in vaccines.

“We stand by all vaccines that are scientifically proven to be effective and safe…when we evaluate a vaccine the data we are not looking at its origin, which country it was produced in, or which production technique was used but rather phase 3 trial reports and scientifically published data,” the Turkish Medical Association said in a statement. 

The union also called for Turkey to immediately start the process to obtain other vaccines.

Ankara has previously said the deal with Sinovac Biotech is for 50 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. 

States look for more Covid-19 vaccine doses as US death toll nears 400,000

Registered nurses transfer the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine from a bottle into a syringe ready for vaccination at the Corona High School gymnasium in Corona, California on January 15

States are racing to get Covid-19 vaccine supplies and distribution in order as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned Friday of more contagious variants of coronavirus potentially exacerbating the spread.

CDC officials implored Americans to continue with preventative measures against the coronavirus, while highlighting the variant first identified in Britain known as B.1.1.7.

The B.1.1.7 variant appears to more readily infect human cells and one CDC simulation of its transmissibility raised concerns that it could become the most dominant form of coronavirus in March.

The CDC called for continued and aggressive vaccine distribution to try and stem the tide. “Higher vaccination coverage might need to be achieved to protect the public,” CDC researchers warned.

Deaths approach 400,000: On Friday, 3,258 people died of Covid-19 in the US, as the total number of deaths from the pandemic edged closer to 400,000. The nation also recorded its 11th consecutive day of more than 200,000 infections, per Johns Hopkins University data.

Some states were upset by news from Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who said there is no “reserve stockpile” of vaccines available to release.

“We now have enough confidence that our ongoing production will be quality and available to provide the second dose for people, so we’re not sitting on a reserve anymore,” Azar told NBC News’ Lester Holt in an interview. “We’ve made that available to the states to order.”

Read the full story:

FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 15:  A woman receives the COVID-19 vaccine at Gillette Stadium on January 15, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. First responders and healthcare workers will be first to recieve the vaccinations at the stadium, starting with around 300 people per day, but advancing to thousands per day soon after.  (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

States look for more Covid-19 vaccine doses as the nation's death toll nears 400,000

24 Australian Open tennis players to isolate after positive cases on charter flight

A total of 24 tennis players will enter isolation after two positive Covid-19 tests results were returned from a charter flight carrying players into Melbourne for the Australian Open, according to the tournament’s official Twitter account.

The Australian Open tennis grand slam will begin on February 8 2021.

The ATP – the governing body of the men’s professional tennis circuits – has previously announced that players arriving for the tournament would be forced to quarantine for 14 days on arrival in Melbourne, per Australian rules, but a “controlled environment” will allow players to prepare for their matches while quarantining. 

All passengers from the flight are in quarantine hotels, the tournament organizers said, with the 24 players unable to leave their rooms for 14 days and until medically cleared. They will be ineligible to practice.

United States edges closer to 24 million coronavirus cases

The United States has reported at least 23,524,081 coronavirus cases, including at least 391,955 related deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tally.

On Friday, Johns Hopkins University reported 209,560 new cases and 3,258 additional deaths. 

At least 31,161,075 vaccine doses have been distributed across the country, with at least 12,279,180 shots administered, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other US territories, as well as repatriated cases.  

  • Check here for the latest Johns Hopkins University US numbers
  • Check here for the latest US Center for Disease Control and Prevention vaccine numbers

India aims to vaccinate 300,000 people in a single day as it kicks off mass immunization drive

A medical worker inoculates Vidya Thakur, medical dean of the Rajawadi Hospital, with a Covid-19 vaccine at the hospital in Mumbai, India, on January 16.

About 300,000 people are set to be vaccinated in India Saturday as the country launches what Prime Minister Narendra Modi is calling the largest immunization drive in the world.

Indian officials are preparing to administer the first round of Covid-19 vaccinations on Saturday morning at more than 3,000 sites set up across the country, which is home to more than 1.3 billion people. Each site is expected to vaccinate about 100 people.

The vaccines will be rolled out in phases, with health care workers getting the vaccine first, Modi announced Saturday.

Modi addressed the nation via video conference to officially launch the first phase of the national rollout, which the government says will ultimately see 30 million health care and frontline workers vaccinated for free.

“With the courage you have shown to combat coronavirus, the same courage is required during the vaccination process,” Modi said.
“Today’s first vaccine being given to someone associated with the healthcare system is a way of the society paying back the debt they owe to them.”

He asked the public to avoid rumors around the vaccines’ efficacy, and to continue being cautious even after they had received a shot.

Two vaccines: The Indian government issued emergency approval to two vaccines earlier this month – one from Oxford University/AstraZeneca and the other from Covaxin, which was developed locally by Indian biotech company Bharat Biotech and a government-run institute.

Recipients will not be able to choose which vaccine they receive.  

Batches of both vaccines were prepared and shipped across the country this week. India has conducted multiple dry runs for the vaccination drive since December to ensure smooth delivery. 

India has reported the second-most coronavirus cases in the world after the United States, with more than 10.5 million confirmed cases and more than 152,000 related deaths.

The world marks 2 million coronavirus deaths. The real toll is likely much higher

Cemetery workers carry the coffin of a Covid-19 victim at Nossa Senhora Aparecida Cemetery in Manaus, Brazil, on January 15.

It’s as if 10 of the world’s largest commercial jets fell out of the sky, every day for an entire year.

The official global death toll from the coronavirus pandemic surpassed 2 million on Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The tragic milestone came just over a year after the first Covid-19 death was reported in Wuhan, China.

While the 2 million figure is horrifying, experts say the real death toll is likely much higher. Only confirmed Covid-19 deaths are included in the tally, which means people who die without a firm diagnosis may not be included.

With testing still inadequate in many countries, there might be hundreds of thousands of additional deaths.

Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, said an analysis of excess mortality rates suggests that as many as one-fifth of coronavirus deaths might not be recorded.

“We have found that on average, total deaths are 20% higher than reported deaths,” he told CNN in an email, adding that the ratio varied substantially across different countries.
“There are extreme cases such as Ecuador, Peru or Russia where total deaths are 300-500% higher than reported deaths… but where we have data, the average relationship is 20% higher.”

20210115-COVID_19_Deaths_Illustration_Timeline

The world marks 2 million coronavirus deaths. The real toll is likely much higher

US states put smokers in line for Covid-19 vaccine, sparking frustration among those lower in priority

Covid-19 vaccine vials at Roseland Community Hospital on December 18, 2020, in Chicago, Illinois.

US federal guidelines recommend that smokers under the age of 65 – considered high-risk for severe Covid-19 symptoms – be eligible for the vaccine in early phases of distribution, frustrating essential workers lower in the priority line.

New Jersey and Mississippi are offering the vaccine to smokers under the age of 65. Several other states have included smokers among those next in line, but haven’t opened the phase yet, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis. 

The move to prioritize smokers over essential workers like teachers has received some criticism, though the phased rollout is in line with federal guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control that place smoking on a list of conditions “that cause increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes Covid-19.”

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices advises smokers to be vaccinated in Phase 1C, although states can ultimately use their discretion in how they open eligibility to constituents. 

Phase 1C includes people 65-74 years of age, people 16-64 years of age with high-risk medical conditions, and other essential workers. Phase 1A includes health care workers and long-term care facility residents, and Phase 1B includes people 75 or older and non-health care frontline/essential workers.

How to get Covid-19 vaccination info by state

South Korea's social distancing rules to remain in place until the end of January

A woman wearing a face mask walks near a park, which is taped off to comply with social distancing measures in Seoul, South Korea on January 14.

South Korea is extending its social distancing rules by 2 weeks until January 31, the country’s Health Ministry said in a news release Saturday. 

A ban on gatherings of five or more people will also remain in place until the end of January, the ministry added. 

Seoul Metropolitan Area has been under social distancing level 2.5, the second-highest level, since early December, while the rest of the country has been on level 2, the third-highest level.

Under existing rules, dining in at restaurants in Seoul and surrounding areas is banned after 9 p.m. Spectators are also banned at sporting events.

These social distancing measures were set to expire on Sunday. But while the number of new daily cases is decreasing, the Health Ministry said the danger of a resurgence remains.

Minister of Health Kwon Deok-cheol said the government will review social distancing levels once daily cases fall to 400.

South Korea’s cases: The country reported 547 local and 33 imported infections on Friday, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said in a news release Saturday. That takes South Korea’s total reported caseload to 71,820.

Another 19 patients died, bringing the total number of deaths to 1,236.

The Health Ministry designated the first half of February as a special quarantine period in anticipation of increased traffic during the Lunar New Year festival next month.

Inter-city trains will only be allowed to fill 50% of seats, while visits to nursing facilities will be banned.

US HHS Secretary Azar doesn't mention nearly 400,000 pandemic deaths in his resignation letter

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speaks during a news conference on January 12, in Washington, DC.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar submitted his resignation letter earlier this week, as any Cabinet secretary in an outgoing administration should do.

And, as many do in a resignation letter, he outlined his accomplishments.

Azar mentions the coronavirus pandemic first and it was, by far, the biggest development of Donald Trump’s presidency. More than 390,000 Americans have died in the pandemic and more than 23 million have been diagnosed with the virus.

But in his letter, Azar doesn’t mention those numbers, the federal government’s failure to warn of a pandemic for weeks, or the delayed rollout of tests that public health experts say impacted the US response during crucial weeks that could have slowed the spread of Covid-19.

Azar does not mention disagreements over the danger of the virus – Trump repeatedly claimed it would “disappear” – and doesn’t mention arguments over mandating or even recommending the use of masks to slow the spread.

Instead, Azar characterizes his department’s actions as early and aggressive.

“While we mourn every lost life, our early, aggressive and comprehensive efforts saved hundreds of thousands or even millions of American lives,” Azar writes in the letter, dated January 12. 
“Operation Warp Speed achieved in nine months what many doubted would be possible in a year and a half or more.
“As of this date, we have two safe and effective vaccines being administered to millions of Americans, with more vaccines likely to be authorized shortly.”

Operation Warp Speed repeatedly promised 20 million Americans would be vaccinated by the end of December. As of Friday – three days after Azar submitted the letter – 10.6 million people had been vaccinated.

US Health and Human Services Secretary Azar complains of tarnished legacy in resignation letter

President Donald Trump’s “actions and rhetoric” have tarnished the administration’s legacy, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a resignation letter submitted this week.

Azar submitted the standard resignation letter for a Cabinet secretary to offer an outgoing president, dated January 12 and obtained by CNN Friday.

In the letter, addressed to Trump, Azar laid out what he considered to be the best accomplishments of HHS over the past four years.

“Unfortunately, the actions and rhetoric following the election, especially during this past week, threaten to tarnish these and other historic legacies of this Administration,” Azar wrote in the letter, first reported by the New York Times.
“The attacks on the Capitol were an assault on our democracy and on the tradition of peaceful transitions of power that the United States of America first brought to the world,” Azar added.
“I implore you to continue to condemn unequivocally any form of violence, to demand that no one attempt to disrupt the inaugural activities in Washington or elsewhere, and to continue to support unreservedly the peaceful and orderly transition of power on January 20, 2021.”

Azar said he plans to stay in his role until January 20, when President-elect Joe Biden’s team takes over.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 20: United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar speaks to the press in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on November 20, 2020 in Washington, DC.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar complains of tarnished legacy in resignation letter to Trump

Brazil's Supreme Court orders federal government to take action on severe oxygen shortage in Manaus hospitals

Family members of patients hospitalized with Covid-19 line up with empty oxygen tanks in an attempt to refill them in Manaus, Brazil, on Friday, January 15.

Brazil’s Supreme Court and a federal court in Amazonas have ordered the country’s government to work to immediately resolve a severe oxygen shortage in the coronavirus-hit state. 

Supreme Court Justice Ricardo Lewandowski ordered the federal government to take all actions within its power to alleviate the health crisis in Manaus, the Amazonas capital. 

Lewandowski instructed the government to draw up a “comprehensive and detailed” plan with strategies to deal with the deadly emergency within 24 hours. He also directed the government to immediately find oxygen and other necessary supplies for the Covid-19 patients hospitalized in Manaus. 

A federal court in Amazonas also intervened in the matter. A judge in Manaus ordered the federal government to immediately transfer all patients from the city’s public health system who may die due to lack of oxygen to places where they can get care. 

The order issued on Thursday said it was the federal government’s responsibility to send patients to other states. 

No plans to test most National Guard for Covid-19 before they deploy across Washington

National Guard members unload supplies outside the US Capitol on January 14, in Washington, DC.

The overwhelming majority of the more than 20,000 National Guard members expected in Washington, DC for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration will not be tested for coronavirus before they are deployed from states or upon their arrival in the nation’s capital, a National Guard spokesperson told CNN. 

The Pentagon has authorized up to 25,000 National Guard members to help with inauguration security.

Testing for National Guard members sent to DC is “case dependent” but not widely required, the spokesperson said, noting there are some screening procedures – such as temperature checks – in place.

“Incoming Guard men and women are screened upon departure from their individual states and upon arrival to the DC Armory according to CDC guidelines. Temperature checks and screening questions are in place; masks and social distancing are required where the mission allows,” the DC National Guard said in a statement to CNN Friday.

The National Guard encourages coronavirus testing to personnel who are symptomatic or exposed to the coronavirus.

But as CNN has consistently reported, coronavirus can be spread by people who have no symptoms and, without testing, it is impossible to know whether any of the thousands of Guard members are carrying the virus. And they are being deployed with little warning.

The troops are also arriving in large numbers with the US having had its deadliest 14 days in the pandemic. More than 3.2 million new coronavirus cases have been reported in the first two weeks of 2021, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Earlier this week, Ohio National Guard Maj. Gen. John Harris expressed his concern for deploying the National Guard in his state.

“I’ll just remind you that these National Guard folks that we’re bringing on duty were doing something else just a couple days ago and had no idea they’d be coming here,” Harris said during a news conference. “Bringing these folks together collectively – it is a real concern for us.”

Members of the National Guard are seen guarding Capitol Hill in preparation for the US Presidential Inauguration a week after a pro-Trump mob broke into and took over the Capitol, January 14, 2021, in Washington, DC.

No plans to test most National Guard for Covid-19 before they deploy across DC

READ MORE

States increase Covid-19 vaccination speed even as confusion over federal supply grows
New, contagious coronavirus variant could worsen pandemic, CDC warns
The world marks 2 million coronavirus deaths. The real toll is likely much higher
Despite Trump administration promise, there appear to be no more 'reserve' 2nd vaccine doses to release
Oxygen shortage forces evacuation of 60 premature babies from Amazon city
LA County is adding more space to store bodies of Covid-19 victims

READ MORE

States increase Covid-19 vaccination speed even as confusion over federal supply grows
New, contagious coronavirus variant could worsen pandemic, CDC warns
The world marks 2 million coronavirus deaths. The real toll is likely much higher
Despite Trump administration promise, there appear to be no more 'reserve' 2nd vaccine doses to release
Oxygen shortage forces evacuation of 60 premature babies from Amazon city
LA County is adding more space to store bodies of Covid-19 victims